Business leader leaves legacy for growth

Outgoing Chair of the Sheffield City Region Business Growth Executive Board Paul Houghton has hailed the business support body’s engagement with more than 4,000 local companies since launch as an “incredible achievement”.

Stepping down after four years in the role, Mr Houghton says huge progress has been made in helping local firms to realise their growth ambitions.

The managing partner at Grant Thornton’s Sheffield office said small, medium and large firms now had access to a business support service which was consistent across the city region.

And he welcomed its efforts to help new businesses get started, while also supporting existing firms to boost staff skills, access finance and tap into export markets.

Mr Houghton, who is also stepping down from his role as a Local Enterprise Partnership board member at the end of his four-year tenure, said: “When we set out four years ago to establish a business support organisation for the city region it’s safe to say provision was mixed. Often businesses would tell me they found out through informal networking about the provision that was available.

“With the launch of the Growth Hub last April and the hard work of the team since, I can now confidently say we have a high quality and consistent level of business support across the city region although of course we recognise there is still a lot more to do.

“To have engaged with nearly 10 per cent of all the businesses in the city region in just over a year is an incredible achievement. We have been held up by government as an exemplar in a number of areas and the Growth Hub will continue to work on improving the offer for businesses.”

“The Growth Hub’s success so far is down to the fact it has been business driven and business focused. It’s been about saying to businesses, what could you do given the right support?

“We’ve made great progress so far and in the next few years I’m confident we will see the work of the Growth Hub really begin to pay off. That’s not just in terms of businesses being able to access support wherever they are based.  It’s also in terms of the uplift we will see to economic growth in the city region – and the corresponding impact on jobs, skills and quality of life.”

“That will mean focusing the most intensive support on the companies and sectors with the greatest growth potential. Collaboration between the public and private sectors will ensure we can deliver bespoke interventions to the companies and projects which are best placed to deliver significant jobs and GVA growth.”

Sheffield City Region Growth Hub provides local businesses with a single point of contact for business growth advice and support. It launched in April 2016 and is part of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

In its first year it has supported firms who have gone on to create 800 jobs. Of the 4,100 companies to engage with the Growth Hub, 1,500 have accessed grants or direct in-depth support.

Success stories include PCT Limited, a third generation family owned manufacturing company based on three sites on the Holbrook Industrial Estate in Sheffield. They received a £50,000 grant via the Growth Hub for a new fibre laser cutter. Since the investment such is the increase in demand for its services that it has moved to two shifts and employed a further four staff, with plans in place to recruit an additional three more in welding. Meanwhile, Krantech, an engineering  firm based in Chesterfield, received Growth Hub support to access a grant to refurbish its new business premises and pay for machinery.

David Grimes, Head of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, said: “From a standing start last April we now have a successful business support offering which Sheffield City Region companies can tap into. We’ve been able to simplify the huge, and sometimes confusing, range of support options which are available to businesses, meaning we can help firms easily work out which ones are best for them.

“Crucially, our team of growth specialists who work with businesses have experience themselves of running successful companies. They have a proven track record of delivering growth projects and understand the challenges firms face in trying to realise their growth ambitions.

“Under Paul’s chairmanship we have been able to steer the Growth Hub from idea to reality and I would like to thank him for his contribution and support. We’re already getting concrete results for our local businesses, and look forward to achieving much more in the future.”

For more information about Sheffield City Region Growth Hub and how it can help your business contact the Gateway team on 03330 00 00 39 or send them an email.